Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Telegraph, Telephone, Tele-mom

As my immediate family spread out across the country in the 80's and 90's, we depended on my mom to keep us all in touch. Too many time zone, and our jobs or studies (or both) often had us on odd schedules. The joke went there were three ways to get a message out: telegraph, telegraph and tele-mom. (Email is included in the "tele-mom" process - my mom was on email from the early days...)

In search of directions to connect to the wireless, I opened the customary information binder in one of the hotels I stayed at during my peripatetic period. Included in the book were instructions on how to send a telegram. I'm over 50 and have never sent a telegram, and in fact do not even remember a telegram being delivered to my house! Does anyone still send them? Why was this considered important information (in a quite modern hotel, no less).

Western Union stopped sending telegrams in 2006, (in person delivery had ceased years before). What's old is new again, though. Like Twitter and SMS, brevity encouraged odd constructions STOP. (This booklet about how to write a proper telegram is a fascinating read.)

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